From Awestruck Fan to Friendship
23 Jul 2009
Following my first JPG meet-up, four days in northern Italy with Antonio Lovison (goes by Lowison) and our spouses, I have a confession to make. Shortly after I joined the JPG community in September of 2008, I fell in love with Antonio's photography, but didn't make him a contact until months later. My delay boiled down to intimidation. Awestruck by Antonio's skill and artistry I, a passionate but inexperienced amateur photographer, doubted he'd want to comment on my photos or would appreciate feedback from photographer struggling to get beyond the automatic settings on her new Nikon D40X.
Then as my photography improved, I realized the connections between my development as a writer and as a photographer. That understanding not only resulted in adding Antonio to my contacts, but actively studying and commenting on his work, which kick-started an exchange of emails that began a friendship and eventually led to Antonio and his wife, Adriana, spending two days with Fred (my husband) and me at our home near Siena and two at their home in Padova. I could write pages about the wonderful times the four of us spent together and the keepsake moments I shared with Antonio and Adriana as we explored some of the Tuscan countryside, but that's not what this essay is about. It, though, figures into the equation of what I learned from when I became a member of the JPG community through my first JPG meet-up. And I'm hoping at least some of those perceptions will be helpful and/or of interest to other JPGers.
So let's start off by taking a look at the similarities between growing as a writer and a photographer. Writers develop their craft by writing, associating with other writers, reading a lot, and habitually dissecting the work of other authors, especially the parts that truly work and those that don't with the hope of avoiding the latter and using bits and pieces of the first to further develop their way of writing. Writers true to themselves, no matter how much they inject what they've learned from other authors into their writing, will produce original work, because each writer perceives the world differently. And the more a writer writes the stronger that writer's style or voice becomes.
Similar things can be said about photographers developing their craft, which makes the JPG community ideal for all those serious about improving their photography skills. Here we're not only encouraged to keep taking pictures, but given the opportunity to study photos of enthusiastic amateur photographers and those of highly skilled and artistic professionals, to give and get constructive feedback, to develop a network of contacts who can become our friends, as well as help us achieve our photography goals. In my own body of work posted on JPG, I can see how my photography has improved since joining the community. Yes, the encouraging feedback I've received is a big plus, but my photography has developed the most by studying the work of my contacts and focusing on what I really like or dislike within any given shot and incorporating what attracts or moves me into my own work.
Because of the relationship I see between the writing process and that of photography I don't fear producing photographs that resemble those of photographers I greatly admire, such as Antonio. Yes, the more I study his photos the more I can point to Antonio influences in my photography, especially in the shots I took while with him. During the times we took pictures together, we didn't discuss what we were capturing and I didn't consciously take shots reflecting qualities I marvel within Antonio's work and I what learned about him during our meet-up, but they can be seen within this essay's photos:
How Antonio's work increased my awareness of the beauty of lines, geometry, patterns, and textures is clearly evident in Tuscan Summer Wheat, Tuscan Zigzag and Triangles, Tuscan Rows, and In a Tuscan Doorway. Besides interesting lines, textures, and movement, Tuscan Wheat Trails reflects how much Antonio loves downhill skiing.
That Way also features some interesting lines, plus Adriana not walking in the direction the arrow is pointing says something of the touch of humor in some of Antonio's pictures. Big Bike; Little Bike also has that kind of humorous slant.
Initially the line pattern in Bound Madonna and Child attracted me and then the way they overlap the image of Madonna and Child brought to mind continued suppression of women and children throughout the world, which reminded me of how some of Antonio's photos make a political statement, such as Big Brother in The World of Tomorrow theme.
Lovers in Padova captures a sense of place, involving local history, art, romance, geometry, a bit of humor, and movement, plus for me represents Antonio and Adriana's love for Padova and Antonio's artistic talents as a sculptor, as well as a photographer.
In Photographer at Play I see Antonio's playfulness as well as his passion for photography and the Tuscan countryside.
Home and Family Roots speaks to me of Antonio and Adriana's deep family roots in Padova and the importance of home and family. Also this shot represents the only time Antonio and I captured the same subject at the same time (a river reflection in Dolo). Antonio's image, The Rest of the Evening, is clearly different from mine, punctuating the fact that no matter how much our work is impacted by photographers we admire, our photos, if we're true to ourselves, convey our unique perception of moments in time through the lens of a camera and how we choose to edit those images.
So if you're a newbie photographer and JPGer, and an awestruck fan like I was, maybe my confession and what followed helped define the JPG community as not only a valuable resource to help you achieve your photography goals, but a means of connecting with people all over the world, and in some instances leading to lasting friendships.